Innovations in Steel Pan Manufacturing

G-pans, Extended Rim Steel Pans, Stainless Steel Steelpans, Grooveless™ Steel Pans 

G-PANS

Genesis pans or G-pans were developed at the University of the West Indies (Trinidad campus).

Unlike traditional pans, they are made from durable high-grade steel sheets and not metal drums.

The G-pan family of instruments is much smaller than the traditional steel pan family. Currently, there are four members of the G-pan family, a bass pan, a mid-range four pan, a double pan and a lead pan. These four pans cover the entire range of the existing steel pan family

To date the bass G-pans seem to be the most impressive of the four. It is reported to produce well defined low register pitches at louder volumes than the standard bass pans, eliminating the need for a tenor bass pan

Advantages

  • Wider range than the average steel pan
  • Improved sound quality
  • Fewer pans are needed to produce a powerful sound

Disadvantages

  • G-pans are significantly heavier than the average steel pan
  • The diameter of the g-pan is wider than the average steel pan

Source: "Honouring Innovation" UWI (Trinidad)Annual Report 2006/2007

Extended Rim Steel Pans

Extended rim pans were introduced by the company Panyard Inc. under the trademark Solid Hoop.

Traditional steel pan manufacturing uses 55 gallon drums as starting material, extended rim pans are created by welding flat stock metal to solid steel rims. The diameters of these pans are approximately 3 inches longer than pans made from 55 gallon drums

This increased surface area is said to provide the right amount of space for the optimal performance of all the notes in the pan.

Also, the thickness of the metal varies from note to note. The metal for each note is thinned to a specific pre-determined value for optimal performance of the note. This has reportedly minimized the problem of diminishing sound quality in the higher registers.

Click the link below to see a YouTube video of this process.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDE25KaXVJk 

Source: “Pan To The Future.” Pantheon Steel Drum Factory Home Page. Online. 14 June 2008.< http://www.pantheonsteel.com/default.asp?action=article&ID=65.>

Stainless Steel Pans

Steel pans have traditionally been made from mild steel. However this type of steel rusts very easily. Protective finishes like chrome plating or spray painting are usually applied to the steel to prevent rusting.

Swedish physicist and steel pan player Ulf Kronmon attempted to eliminate this step by creating steel pans made from non-corrosive sheets of stainless steel.

Advantages

  • They needed no chroming or painting
  • They stayed in tune longer than traditional steel pans
  • They produced stable brilliant tones

Disadvantages

  • Sinking and grooving the hard stainless steel took three times longer than the standard 55 gallon drums
  • Sinking and grooving required special tools
  • The starting materials were expensive and not easy to come by.

Source: Ulf Kronman. “16 Innovations Regarding The Instrument.” The Pan Page: A Forum For The Steel Pan Instrument. Online. 14 June 2008.

Grooveless™ Steel Pans

Traditional steel pan manufacturing invloves placing grooves in pans to separate the notes and to prevent the sound of one note from ‘bleeding’ into another when the pan is being played.

However, adding grooves can cause additional problems like accidentally punching holes in the metal, or creating random stresses in the metal around the grooves.

Phil Solomon, originally from Guyana, has created a series of Grooveless™ steel pans which have reportedly eliminated many of the problems normally associated with grooving and made it easier to produce notes with perfectly tuned overtones.

Source: “Innovations: Grooveless™ Method.” Solomon Steelpan Company Home Page. Online. 14 June 2008. 



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